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DFB 2006 World Cup bid 'slush fund' allegations dividing German football

Renowned German weekly Der Spiegel reported on Friday that ahead of the vote for the host country of the 2006 World Cup in 2000, a slush fund of 10.3 million Swiss francs (about $6m at that time) -- with a financial injection from former Adidas CEO Robert Louis-Dreyfus -- was set up to buy the votes of Asian representatives on FIFA's executive committee.

The money was later claimed back by Louis-Dreyfus, who died in 2009, and was -- according to Der Spiegel -- returned to the former Adidas CEO via a transaction into a FIFA account in 2005 before being transferred into a private account of Louis-Dreyfus.

The German FA has admitted that a payment to FIFA had been made, but the DFB claimed they did not know what happened to the money originally intended for a FIFA cultural programme. They also never claimed it back.

DFB have strongly rejected claims that current president Wolfgang Niersbach -- who has been touted as UEFA president Michel Platini's potential successor -- and Bayern Munich's honorary president Franz Beckenbauer -- who led the organising committee in 2006 -- were aware of the existence of the funds.

On Saturday, Niersbach told the official DFB website that he had been made aware of the payment this summer, and the attempts to solve the issue had been started immediately, both internally and externally with the help of law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer.

However, commercial lawyer news site juve.de claimed the law firm only received the mandate "very recently and not a few months ago."

The law firm currently also advises car manufacturer Volkswagen, with the company having been ordered to recall 2.4 million cars for a software change in Germany alone in the wake of the emissions scandal earlier this year.

Beckenbauer said: "I never gave money to anyone in order to acquire votes so that Germany was awarded the 2006 World Cup." Niersbach explained on DFB's website he could not remember making notes on a controversial document advising the payment to Louis-Dreyfus, cited by Der Spiegel as one source of proof for the existence of the slush fund.

Germany hosted the 2006 World Cup, which was eventually won by Italy.

During a talk show on Sky on Sunday, Jens Weinreich -- one of the five writers of the story -- said the note has not undergone a handwriting analysis. The author also attacked Sky for allegedly taking sides, calling them "the Beckenbauer network."

Beckenbauer works as a pundit for Sky, but will not appear on air before his club's match at Arsenal today.

During the opening ceremony for the DFB football museum in Dortmund on Monday, Niersbach added that the DFB will "refute" the news magazine's claims and take legal action against the Hamburg-based paper.

The German FA is also reportedly considering legal action against former president Theo Zwanziger, who was a member of the organising committee in 2006 but has since fallen out with the DFB.

Zwanziger -- who has been accused of leaking the information to Der Spiegel -- has said through his lawyer that he urged Niersbach to look into the payments "for three years." While he had been aware of the payments, Zwanziger believed they were indeed used for the FIFA cultural programme.

DFB media director Ralf Kottker hit back in Bild, saying that "it can't be true he has asked Niersbach to solve the situation for three years because their last personal contact was in 2013."

Bayern CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge also added his thoughts to the discussion, telling reporters that while he never attended a meeting of the bid committee, he fully trusts "the men of honour" Beckenbauer and Niersbach, whom he has known for a long time.

Amid the scandal, what clear is that Frankfurt prosecutors have initiated a monitoring process and named fraud, breach of trust or corruption as possible offences that might be investigated.

FIFA have yet to comment on the whereabouts of the 2005 payment, and suspended president Sepp Blatter told Die Welt he was not involved in the deal.

"Speculations and accusations are not helpful for coming to terms with the past," Die Welt commented. "Facts are needed. €6.7m -- what happened to the money?"

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